Nick Blackwell retained his British Middleweight title on an historic night at Derby’s new Arena. Blackwell was being out-boxed but erupted with a spectacular punch to floor his challenger  and cap a great evening as professional boxing returned to Derby after many years absence.

Blackwell’s first defence came just eight weeks after taking the middleweight title from John Ryder at London’s O2. The 24-year-old, from Trowbridge, has no amateur experience and turned professional in 2009 having learned his trade as an unlicensed fighter. He took the middleweight crown at the third attempt and, after 21 professional bouts, Blackwell arrived at Derby with just 3 defeats, two of which came in British title challenges. Despite a hard-man reputation, Blackwell was certainly been emotional when taking the title in May.

Challenger Damon Jones, from Leeds, had an impressive 13-0 professional record, but was had yet to go beyond 6 rounds. Jones lacks Blackwell’s outright power, but has plenty of boxing skills and was content to slow the pace in the early rounds. The 22-year-old boxed cleverly with sharp, accurate lefts to the head, keeping Blackwell at a distance and winning the early rounds on points.

Blackwell kept advancing, but was unable to find a real opening, increasing the pressure a little in round 2, but still unable to use his trade-mark ‘bang-bang’ 1-2 combination. He admits to beginning slowly and improving as the fight progresses and he began to ramp things up towards the end of the fifth.

Jones was ahead on points but in the closing seconds of round 6, Blackwell had his opponent on the ropes and, with Jones’ guard down for just a second, it was all Blackwood needed to get close and unleash one devastating right to the head, on the stroke of the bell.

The challenger landed heavily on the canvas and looked dazed as he struggled to his feet. Referee Victor Loughlin had no hesitation in ending the fight and Blackwell danced around the ring in delight before going across to greet his highly vocal fan club.

“I started late again,” said the champion , afterwards, “ and he was keeping me at the end of his jab, but I caught him with my right. I knew he would try and out-box me because I don’t have an amateur background, but I knew if I put pressure on, and he keeps throwing those body shots, he was going to tire.”



“It would be nice to go with a headline act from Derby and I think we could absolutely have this place heaving.” That’s the hope of boxing promoter Mick Hennessy after professional boxing returned to the city of Derby. He had jointly promoted the historic evening with local promoter Clifton Mitchell and live television coverage on Channel 5.

Mitchell, who challenged for British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles during his professional career, also runs his own stable of boxing talent from his One Nation Fight Academy in Lynton Street , Derby.

“The Arena is brilliant,” Mr Hennessy added. “It’s a state-of-the-art venue, Derby’s very lucky to have it.”

Around two-thirds of the 2000 seats laid out for the event were taken, not bad for a summer evening event put on at relatively short notice. The middleweight title fight had brought in plenty of support from both camps and the local fighters were well supported, too, so there was a tremendous atmosphere.

As with the badminton fixtures, earlier in the summer, the main hall adaptable and well suited to this kind of event. With appropriate lighting, one loses track of the huge size of the arena and the cycling facility, so it proves a very versatile space.

Mr Hennessy was in no doubt that he will return to the city. “I think it was a great event,” he said, “and it’s somewhere we would love to promote more often.”

Derby City Council leader, Councillor Ranjit Banwait, was delighted with the success of the evening. “It’s been fantastic, a pretty historic day,” he said, “ the first time we have had boxing at this level in the city. What a perfect venue the Derby Arena is. It’s putting Derby on the map, a great pride for me as a Derby lad, born and bred. I’m particularly proud that I’m part of an administration that saw the vision in this. Obviously these are challenging financial times, but we took that risk and it will pay us back in years to come.”



Derby light-middleweight Myron Mills looked impressive as he cruised to a comfortable victory over Kevin McCauley.

The Derby teenager is part of his uncle Clifton Mitchell’s One Nation stable and was looking to extend his unbeaten professional career to four wins. Even at this early stage of his career, he had too much class for the journeyman boxer from Brighton.

There was plenty of vocal support, for Mills, who gave an intelligent display, confirming his uncle’s belief that he has a great future ahead of him. Mills won all four rounds and the bout by 40 points to 36.

Shepshed flyweight Louis Norman, also trained by Mitchell, has a promising future , too, but found Brett Fidoe a tough opponent. Fidoe survived hitting the floor at the end of round 5, of 6, after catching a glancing blow on the cheek from Norman’s right uppercut. A clean punch would surely have ended the contest there, but Fidoe recovered to go the distance. Norman got the verdict by 60 points to 53.

Indi Sangha did enough to take the super-featherweight bout  40-37, against Lithuanian Simas Volosinas, and record the second win of his career. The Derby 19-year-old was content with single jabs to the body, rather than find a combination despite the urgings from his trainer, Clifton Mitchell. Sangha tired towards the end of the bout and will need more aggression as he faces better rivals.

World heavyweight title challenger Tyson Fury was in town to support his younger brother Young Fury, who knocked out Ostaps Basins, and cousin Hughie Lewis Fury . Hughie Fury was looking to extended his unbeaten career against Brazilian George Arias who was more than twice his age.

It proved to be a rather pedestrian contest with Arias kept at arms-length by Fury. Only in round 2 did Fury have the Brazilian in trouble, with a series of heavy blows, but Arias weathered the storm and neither fighter threatened to finish the contest quickly. Fury won every round and the bout 100-90.

Other local interest centred on Ilkeston heavyweight Russ Henshaw who defeated Lithuanian Remigijus Ziausys 40-36 and Bolsover’s Jamie Robinson. A cut along Robinson’s hairline left him covered in blood, but the welterweight focused to stop Loughborough’s Sam Sharpe mid-way through the third round. Gedling super-bantamweight Leigh Wood was too strong for his Ghanaian opponent, Isaac Owusu, and the contest was stopped in round 4.